Vulnerable Adults

Making It Easier > Processes > Safeguarding > Vulnerable Adults

A person is a vulnerable adult if they are 18 or over who, by reason of mental or other disability, age, illness or other situation is permanently or for the time being unable to take care of him or herself, or to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.


Human beings are, by their very nature, subject to the chances and changes of this world. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, capacities and restrictions. At some time everyone will be vulnerable to a wide range of pressures, concerns or dangers. No one is ‘invulnerable’; some people may consider themselves to be strong but, when circumstances change, strengths can quickly disappear. Some people by reason of their physical or social circumstances have higher levels of vulnerability than others. It is the Christian duty of everyone to recognize and support those who are identified as being more vulnerable. In supporting a vulnerable person we must do so with compassion and in a way that maintains dignity. Vulnerability is not an absolute; an individual cannot be labelled as ‘vulnerable’ in the same way as a child is regarded as such. Childhood is absolute: someone who is not yet eighteen years of age is, in the eyes of the law,2 a child; this is not the case with vulnerability.

Some of the factors that increase vulnerability include:
  • a sensory or physical disability or impairment;
  • a learning disability;
  • a physical illness;
  • mental ill health (including dementia), chronic or acute;
  • an addiction to alcohol or drugs;
  • the failing faculties in old age;
  • a permanent or temporary reduction in physical, mental or emotional capacity brought about by life events, for example bereavement or previous abuse or trauma
Parish Responsibilities
The Parish has a ‘Duty of Care’ to take steps to fulfil its obligations to ensure that Vulnerable Adults in its care do not come to harm.

To exercise a ‘Duty of Care’, the parish should adopt both a Policy and Procedures in relation to the protection of vulnerable adults attending activities authorised by the parish.  A Policy is a declaration of principle and intent. Procedures give substance to the Policy.

Please click on this link Vulnerable Adults policy and procedure document to download your copy of the current Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy and Procedures

Pastoral Visitors
It is important that all people visiting on behalf of the church, receive training. This includes pastoral visitors, home communion visitors and any others who through parish ministry come into contact with vulnerable people.

Advice regarding the safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults can be sought from the Diocese Vulnerable Adults Adviser, Ruth Reed, Department for Church and Society - tel: 0151-705-2161. Deanery based training can also be arranged by contacting Ruth Reed.

Vulnerable Adults Protection Co-ordinator
The PCC should appoint a Vulnerable Adults Protection Co-ordinator to assist it in fulfilling its ‘Duty of Care’.  Click here to access the role description for a Vulnerable Adults Protection Co-ordinator.

Appointment of Volunteers
The PCC and Incumbent should follow the recruitment process guidelines which are set out in the recruitment section of this web site. Forms for use during the recruitment process can be downloaded from the recruitment of volunteers/paid workers and DBS section of the website.

Reporting Abuse
The diocese has now produced a flow chart to help you if you need to refer or disclose any incidents of abuse or if you suspect abuse is taking place.
Click here to download the Vulnerable Adults Abuse Referral Flow Chart

For issues relating to the protection of Vulnerable Adults contact:
Ruth Reed, Diocesan Vulnerable Adults Adviser, tel 0151 705 2161/0151 709 9722 or e-mail:


Church of England Polices

The Church of England has published a set of guidelines on dealing with vulnerable adults.  You can download and read them via their website (click here for access to web site)